All 15,000 tickets for UFC 261, which will be held at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday night, sold out in minutes, and White called it "one of the fastest sell outs in UFC history." UFC 261 will be the first major sporting event to have a full capacity crowd since COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions were implemented in the United States. The indoor event will not have social distancing and MMA fans will decide if they want to wear face masks or not: "It's up to you. It's your decision," White told Yahoo! Sports.
"This is going to be the first full-throttle sporting event since COVID hit, indoor, anywhere in the United States," DeSantis said. "I think it's fitting. We wanted to be safe, but there's a lot of stuff that comes at you from media, from social media, all this stuff. Some people don't like to handle that. Dana White goes right into the teeth of that."
It was great to meet with the legend @DanaWhite in Jax ahead of the big fight between @GameBredFighter and… https://t.co/POdzwlfqEU— Ron DeSantis (@Ron DeSantis) 1619125829.0
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the full-capacity indoor event, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which wrote a story condemning UFC 261.
"At least 15,000 people are willing to risk permanent damage or death to attend a live sporting event again," the opening sentence of a Review-Journal article read. The paper cited the disclaimer that says attending UFC 261 "may lead to exposure to COVID-19 and that contraction of COVID-19 may result in severe and permanent damage to the health of the Holder and/or others including, but not limited to, death."
Hours before UFC 261 kicked off, White blasted the Las Vegas Review-Journal by calling it a "piece of s*** local newspaper." White noted that the UFC didn't lay off a single employee during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We worked with governmental agencies in Nevada and around the world to put on every event safely, and we chose to bring our biggest fight of the year with Conor McGregor back to town July 10th to help relaunch the city," White wrote on Instagram. "Yet, this is how the Las Vegas Review Journal shows its support for a true local business."
"Go f*** yourself LVRJ, and don't bother coming to the fight in July," White concluded, making a reference to UFC 264 that will feature Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirer on July 10.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal isn't the only one that White slammed this week. The UFC president appeared on Candace Owens' new talk show, where he lambasted the mix of sports and politics.
"When you watch sports, you're tuning in to get away from all the crap that's going on in your life," White told Owens. "Whether it's personal, professional, political, whatever's going on in the world. That's your time where you tune in. Never once did we talk about COVID, we didn't talk politics, we didn't talk about anything negative that was going on. When you come in and you watch two or three hours of our fights, you're tuning in for fights. You're coming in to watch a sport. You want to hear all that crap, watch any other channel."
White also attacked sports leagues that force their athletes to have a prescribed opinion on politics and social issues.
"It's like we live in this world right now where nobody's allowed to have their own opinion," White said. "These are all grown men and women that fight for us. They all have their own beliefs, their own politics or whatever it is. They can say whatever they want to say, to a point. I mean, there's some times that some things cross the line, but at the end of the day, too, this is the fight business. Guess what? They say really mean things to each other."
"We don't put a muzzle on anyone," the outspoken White added. "We don't tell people what they can and cannot talk about. Imagine working for a company and they're telling you to believe this."
"And the other thing we don't do, we don't tell you who to vote for," White, who is a Trump supporter, said. "We don't tell you what to believe in, we don't tell you what religion, we don't tell you any of that s***. You're all grown men and women with your own ideas, your own beliefs, and good for you."
"And you shouldn't have to go to work and listen to that s***," White said of woke "big tech" companies telling their employees how to think.